(feature post by U.S.A. HDGD Assoc. Master and WTSDA Black Belt Justin Koivisto)
There are many things that attract people to martial arts training. Each potential student has their own reason for being interested. There are a number of important points about training from why do it to how to do it. Since martial arts training should be for personal development or the betterment of one’s self, here is a short list of things from the what helps do it side of training.
1. Desire to Improve and Learn
A student without the desire to improve on things they’ve already been taught or to learn new things will not flourish. These are the ones that often look weak and tired compared to those that really want to improve. This desire is what keeps students wanting to come back to class again and again. Sometimes students will lose that desire as they become frustrated, but it can be rekindled. It is the job of their instructor or teacher to find that desire. Otherwise, the student is just going through motions to please someone other than themselves, and likely may not want to be there.
2. Open Mind
Coming into anything with a preconceived idea of how it is to be done closes your mind (even partially) to ideas that others may have. This is true for all things in life, and martial arts study is no different. If you think you know how a certain technique should work, that’s the way you will try to execute it again and again regardless of instruction that is given to you. If you are openminded and accept the words and ideas of an instructor, it will allow you to learn the subject matter at hand and help improve yourself quicker with less frustration.
3. Ability to Adapt to Change
In order to be acceptable in anything in life, one must be able to accept change and work with it. Life and nature are not constants without change, why would anyone think that of martial arts? A low block is a low block, but there may be many different ways to do that same block against different attacks. If a student cannot accept a new version of the same technique, the change that they perceive may be a stumbling block that leads to much frustration in the future.
Whether you are participating in a sport, having fun with a hobby, or learning a new trade skill for work, you must practice to get better. The amount of effort you put into practicing outside of class can be seen by your instructors. It is important in martial arts to do that practice on your own to get to know your mind and body and finetune control and power. If you never practice outside class for these reasons, it may be the lack of desire to improve (see first point), or it may be due to treating the art that you are studying as simply a hobby.
While all these things seem obvious to many, sometimes it takes hearing them in order for those items to sink in. Whether you are a beginner, approaching your black belt, or have multiple stripes on your black belt already, these points are always important and relevant.
Author: Master Robert Frankovich
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